The bells, the bells

It’s a grey day. I suppose it’s been a bit of a grey month. In fact, we have had precious few nice days since the end of September, as I recall, and I’m sure it’s not just my mindset. They have occurred, of course, and it’s not very cold, just a bit miserable and very, very wet. When I was without a car I often used to kayak to work across the bay; now I sometimes joke that I could kayak along the road. But I mustn’t moan; there are parts of Britain – and of Scotland – that typically receive more rain than Assynt. In fact, I chose to visit one of them for a Hogmanay getaway and, despite the weather, it was utterly beautiful in ways I didn’t think possible.

Friends from Glasgow organised a log cabin at the edge of Loch Lomond which we all agreed we wanted to live in. Although set amongst other cabins it was peaceful and quiet, and so cosy inside. It was lovely to be able to see other people after such a long social drought and we had a really enjoyable few days wandering along the shoreline, working on a viciously difficult jigsaw late into the night (it was addictively infuriating), eating, drinking and generally chilling. The planned bubbles on the beach for the ‘bells’ on the 31st was a bit of a damp affair; the rain watered down what was in our plastic glasses and extinguished our atmospheric candles. The fairy lights around the tree roots and some distant fireworks reminded us of the important occasion, however and, once again, here’s to this year being a better one for everyone.

I hadn’t been to the ‘other’ – east – side of the loch before and I was astounded by how rural and wooded it is; of course, those of us from the Highlands see the Lowlands as an extension of the cities, weekend playgrounds for urban dwellers and somehow ‘less than’ what we enjoy. Yet the miles of twisted woodland along the narrow road to Rowardennan had me wowing in awe and wanting to stop and take photographs all the way – except you can’t stop. Nothing for it, then, but to ditch the car and walk.
A stopping point along the West Highland way, with a stunning Youth Hostel and welcoming-looking hotel (sadly closed during our visit) Rowardennan itself warrants another visit, but more than that it has inspired me to walk the entire Way. It’s one of the busiest long distance footpaths and that has always put me off but now I think it has to be done; its ups and downs will certainly be a challenge as well. Other paths have been on my bucket list for years, neglected if not forgotten. I need to start ticking them off, I reckon. In warmer weather, though, of course!

Who’s joining me?